Arizona (4-2) at Colorado (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 26, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Folsom Field (53,613) -- Boulder, Colorado. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Arizona 3-0, Colorado 2-1. Away Record: Arizona 1-2, Colorado 1-2. Neutral Record: Arizona 0-0, Colorado 0-0. Conference Record: Arizona 1-2, Colorado 0-3. Series Record: Colorado leads, 13-2.
GAME NOTES: Starting a two-game road trip the Arizona Wildcats will travel to Boulder this weekend for a Pac-12 Conference matchup with the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field.
It took them three tries but the Wildcats finally got in the win column last weekend in league play with a 35-24 triumph over Utah. Prior to the win the Wildcats had lost back-to-back contests and were in danger of falling to the .500 mark overall. Thanks to 236 yards from All-American Ka'Deem Carey, the Wildcats were able to avoid that and improve to 4-2 overall and now 1-2 in the Pac-12.
Colorado took a break from its league schedule last weekend to take on FCS foe Charleston Southern, which it defeated 43-10. The break was much needed for the Buffaloes, who had lost three straight games prior to the contest, with all three coming against conference foes. Those setbacks have not been particularly competitive as the Buffaloes have lost by an average of 36.3 points per game.
Arizona has won two of the last three meetings, including a 56-31 victory last season. Those victories are the first two in the all-time series for the Wildcats, as Colorado has 13 wins in 15 previous encounters.
It was only a matter of time before Carey took over as the nation's leading rusher again. The feature back led in rushing last season and now finds himself averaging 161 yards per game, which is the best mark in the country. Carey totaled his season-high against Utah on a career-high 40 carries, while scoring a 44-yard touchdown late in the contest that sealed the victory.
With Carey running all over the Utes, B.J. Denker was allowed to take on more of a game-manager role and did so successfully, completing 60 percent of his pass attempts for 168 yards and a score. Denker has really been picking up his level of play of late as he has completed better than 60 percent of his passes for five scores and more than 500 yards in the last two weeks. Denker is of course a threat on the ground as well with 327 yards and a team-high eight rushing touchdowns.
Spreading the wealth has been the strategy in the passing game as Samajie Grant (18 receptions, 136 yards, TD) leads in catches on a team that has six different players with double-digit reception totals. Nate Phillips (13 receptions, 199 yards, two TDs) has turned it on of late with six catches for 134 yards and two scores in the last two games.
Although the wins have not been piling up for the Wildcats they have remained competitive just about every week thanks to improvements on defense. The Wildcats are allowing less than 20 points per game and rank a respectable fifth in the league in total defense (369.2 ypg). Tra'Mayne Bondurant (29 tackles, three INTs) and Marquis Flowers (37 tackles, 4.5 TFL) have been the primary playmakers.
Although Colorado took care of Charleston Southern last weekend it masked how poorly the Buffaloes have been offensively. Colorado is dead last in the Pac-12 in both scoring (23.7 ppg) and total offense (382 ypg).
The offensive struggles led head coach Mike MacIntyre to insert Sefo Liufau as the starting quarterback. In his first start Liufau, who replaced Connor Wood, threw for 198 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-20 passing. Liufau will now need to prove that he can be productive against teams in the conference.
The single bright spot this season for the Colorado offense has been the play of Paul Richardson. The Buffalo receiver has been sensational, hauling in 43 passes for 782 yards and six scores. He also has had 13 catches of more than 20 yards, which is more than the rest of the team combined. Nelson Spruce (23 receptions, 275 yards, two TDs) is the second option.
Michael Adkins had a career-high 137 yards and four touchdowns rushing against Charleston Southern. Adkins is the leading rusher for the Buffaloes (315 yards) despite having 20 fewer carries than Christian Powell, who has been used in more short yardage situations.
Just like on offense Colorado has been near the bottom of the Pac-12 as the Buffaloes are ahead of only California in total defense (443 ypg) and points allowed (36 ppg). Colorado has only nine sacks as a team but has managed to hold the fourth-best success rate in the red zone (78.7 percent). However the Buffaloes have allowed the second-most red zone attempts (33).
With Carey and Denker really stepping up their games in recent weeks, Colorado will have a difficult time slowing the Wildcats down. That is bad news for the Buffaloes, who really need Liufau and Adkins to produce against Pac-12 competition immediately.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 41, Colorado 20
10/23 10:38:17 ET